Reloading Windows

1:38:00 PM |

Problem:Fixing Windows without reloading.
A visitor wrote, "This has to be the oldest problem in the book, but it's making my 486 laugh at my pentium... Windows takes 5 excrutiating minutes to boot and 5 more to shutdown. There's hard drive strain like crazy, all the time, even long after Windows has finally appeared. And when I shutdown, it just hangs there on the blue sky screen. 5 painful minutes. Once in Windows, the performance is ordinary, although obviously sub-par for a 400 mhz.
So I performed the basics:
-Scandisk
-Defrag
-Uninstalled ALL my games (freed 2 gig!)
-Uninstalled programs running in the taskbar
-Modified the booting sequence ("startup" in msconfig.exe) so only the essentials are loaded. >
-Removed all shortcuts from the desktop. >
-Several registry checks for problems, removing all bogus entries.
"Nothing! It fixed nothing! I've been told that this is 'normal', that Windows simply deteriorates over time and that the only solution is a reformat. That is unfortunately *not* an option here. I know I only have 64 megs of ram but that can't be why Windows takes forever to boot? Do you have any idea what the problem is and how can I fix it?"
InfoHQ Answer. First you should review your computer's BIOS settings to make sure the settings are optimized for your computer. If they have never been changed, this may be a low priority.
If your BIOS settings (especially hard drive settings) are configured correctly, the next thing to suspect is registry or Windows system file conflicts.
I suggest you either buy Norton Utilities 2000 or download a 30 day trial version from their site atwww.symantec.com.
Use the WinDoctor utility to clean up your Windows installation. Use the registry optimizer to make your registry load faster and to optimize your swap file. Do not use the registry editor unless you know what you are doing.
While I have not made any kind of study, from personal experience I think Norton works at least 50-60% of the time and I have not had it cause additional problems -- like every other disk utility program out there.
If you load an Internet browser like IE 5 when your computer starts, you need to periodically clean up the cache and temp files saved by your browser. Use a good disk cleaning program like CleanSweep.
** Never let any utility program clean up your registry unless you have backed up the previous registry to a floppy disk. I have experienced instances when my computer would no longer boot Windows after such cleaning experiences.**
If after following the above suggestions, your system is still thrashing the hard drive, I think it would be time for you to upgrade your RAM to 128 MB. I have a 550 MHz Pentium III with 128 MB of RAM running Windows 98 and when I have several large memory hog programs running at the same time, I get very tempted to install more RAM. Additional RAM would certainly speed your system up, regardless of its other problems.
InfoHQ Tip: Reloading Windows; The "easy way" and the "hard way". There are two ways to address an unstable Windows installation: the easy way and the hard way.
 The easy way is to reinstall Windows into the same directory it is currently installed in and hope it overwrites the corrupt files. You will lose none of your settings or software installations and it should only take about 30 minutes. One of the drawbacks of the easy way is that it causes Internet Explorer 5 to be uninstallable. This could prevent you from upgrading to new versions of Internet Explorer (note that there are cures for this, but we'll leave that for another time). It is also possible that your version of Windows is such a mess that it will not let you overwrite your previos version of Windows.
The hard way is to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch (or you could just install Windows to a new directory without formatting the hard drive). You will have to reinstall all your software, drivers, Internet settings etc. (so write down any information you need to remember, like Internet access numbers, before you format your drive). This method could take many hours to complete, however you would not have any "garbage" remaining in your Windows directory. Many "purists" believe in the hard way as the only way to deal with an unstable Windows installation as it cleans up all the old drivers and files that could have caused the original problems. (The hard way is further discussed in the sloution following this one.)
I recommend you try the easy way. It only takes about 30 minutes and you're up and running again. I have reloaded Windows 98 over itself on the same machine at least 5 times and have cured similar corrupted/missing driver problems. Now as you might suspect, my machine probably crashes more than it should, but I load and unload so many programs on my systems that it is hardly worthwhile to do it the hard way. 
Solution: Step-by-step on how to do a fresh re-install of Windows. I got my computer a year ago. It seems slower today. I would just like to start over. The only file I would like to save is my IE favortes folder. How do I proceed to erase my hd and reinstall windows 98. I use my computer for internet access and games. My plan was to download the lastest bios and video drivers once I reinstalled windows 98.
InfoHQ Answer.Over time, all Windows computers slow down. As you load and delete more programs, Windows begins to chug along. While reloading Windows to the same directory is often a cure for missing or corrupted files, a reload does not cure a damaged or bloated Windows Registry file.
There are many programs that claim to clean the registry, my experience is that they either do not clean enough or they clean so much that they create worse problems.
<I also have the same opinion about file uninstallers. If the Uninstaller asks if you want to delete any system files, the best answer is to just say "No!".>
So having made the decision that you want to reformat, the question is, "What do you need to Save?".
My list of things you should save or do before you reformat your hard drive.
1. All dial-up Internet phone numbers and modem settings (write these down).
2. Email that is stored on your hard drive (see our article on backing up Email in the Computer Problem Help Index ).
3. All Internet favorites. (This is accomplished in IE 5 by choosing "File/Import and Export" from the IE menu bar).
4. All work files e.g. word processor files, graphics files, MP3 files, spreadsheet files, hardware drivers, and any other files you don't want to lose. (If you want to save your programs, you should use one of the aforementioned "uninstallers" to move your applications to backup media.)
5. Make a Windows Startup Disk if you have not done so already.
Where to save your information. If you have a backup hard drive, removable disk, or tape drive, these are the best places to save large amounts of information. Floppy drives are good for small amounts of information. Other good resources are the Internet file drives like Idrive.
Once you have all your information backed up, put your Windows Satrtup disk into the A: drive and reboot your computer (the Cntrl-Alt-Del keys pressed at the same time twice works nicely). If your computer is not setup to boot from the A: drive, then press Del during the DOS memory check and go into your BIOS and change this.
Otherwise, let the computer boot from the A: drive. The Startup Disk should load DOS and your CD-ROM driver. Type "A:" (don't type the quotes) at the DOS prompt to change directories to the A: drive. Then type "format C:". Your computer should then format your hard drive. Repeat the format process for any partitions you might have.
Once your drive is formatted, it is not bootable as there is nothing on it. You need to add the DOS file system to the drive which is done by using the "fdisk" command. Type fdisk (from the A: prompt) to call the DOS hard drive partitioning program. Choose the 2nd option "Set Active Partition" to install the command.com and other hidden files which will make your C: drive bootable. Now is a good time to create new or to delete old drive partitions by using the 1st "fdisk" option, Create DOS Partition or Logical Drive.
After you have formatted and set an active partition you are now ready to reinstall Windows. Put your Windows CD in the drive and call the Windows setup routine with E:\setup (your CD drive device letter may be different e.g. E:, F:, etc.). Hopefully everything will go smoothly from this point, depending on how much software you want to load, you could easily be facing several hours of software loading after Windows has installed.
Trouble installing Windows Me? Microsoft has included a setup.txt file on the Windows Me CD-ROM which you should read if the automated setup routine fails to run on your computer. This file is also available online.
This file describes system requirements for upgrading to Windows Me from the various Windows versions. The main recommendation for install problems is to make sure all Windows programs are not running, including virus checkers and screen savers, and then install Me from your current version of Windows.
If you still can't install Me, Microsoft recommends you do a clean boot into DOS and then install Me.
Note: To install Windows Me (or any other version) from DOS, your CD-ROM needs to have a DOS driver in order to work correctly. The easiest way to load a DOS CD-ROM driver is to make a Windows Startup disk from Windows 98 (procedures to do this are outlined in the above file).
(Unfortunately, a DOS CD-ROM driver is not added to the Windows 95 Startup disk, so you will have to use one of the following methods.)
Another method is to boot from the CD-ROM drive when your system starts. This is done by changing the boot device sequence in your BIOS. Instead of the typical C: A: device boot sequence, change it to CD-ROM, C: and save the changes. If your BIOS supports this function your computer will boot the Windows Me disk.
The Microsoft file also describes a third way to load Me from DOS, copy the entire Windows Me CD-ROM to your hard drive. Then you can call setup from the hard drive and a CD-ROM driver will not be needed.
The text file also has some specific suggestions for incompatible hardware and software. We highly recommend that all Windows Me users read this article.